sport

Ashton hails Twickenham crowd

Chris Ashton says the Twickenham crowd played a huge part in England's stunning win over New Zealand.

Ashton sensed a special occasion was in the offing when the Twickenham crowd drowned out the haka with a passionate rendition of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot'.

Not only did England deliver with a record 38-21 victory over the All Blacks, but Ashton ended an 11-Test try drought which stretched back to the group stages of the World Cup.

Ashton dropped one early chance but he made no mistake as he seared up on Manu Tuilagi's shoulder and took the offload before pointing to the skies and launching himself over the line.

It looked to be the biggest Ash-Splash yet - but the Saracens wing had much to celebrate.

"I had no intention of doing it. I've no idea where it came from, I was just so happy to finally get over the line," Ashton said.

"I thought I'd forgotten what to do. It's been killing me, killing me, so good. It was good to get over.

"I said (the celebration) was going to happen at the right time and maybe that was the right time.

"A bit of it was relief for me because I haven't scored in such a long time. When Manu went through and I did score it did put us a little bit out of sight so and I felt that we were on the verge of beating them.

"You could feel the sense of occasion from the start with the fans singing 'Sweet Chariot' at the haka. It was a special moment for me.

"I could tell something was going to happen. We had no option really. Losing two games, it was backs to the wall. We had nothing to lose."

England did indeed have their backs to the wall early in the second half when the All Blacks hit back from 15-0 down with two tries in quick succession.

That is when England cut loose, with Tuilagi the destroyer-in-chief, helping Brad Barritt score the first before crashing through three defenders to send Ashton over.

Tuilagi scored the third himself after picking off a pass and galloping, then sauntering over the line.

"Manu was outstanding. He was a massive threat. Manu is a one-off. You don't get many like him knocking around," Ashton said.

"We knew they were going to come out hard in the second half. We had worked so hard to get that lead and they took it away from us straight away.

"I was walking back to the halfway line thinking 'we're still a point ahead, we don't need to be too down on ourselves'.

"From that point I thought we had to go for it, we couldn't just keep kicking goals, we had to score some tries.

"Brad got away with Manu and that changed the game.

"I always felt we had the players that could do it. It was about fulfilling that. When we scored a try like Brad did, I was thinking 'hang on, we can play a bit here'."

Two years ago, Ashton's celebration became his trademark when he finished off a length-of-the-field try in England's record victory over Australia.

The following week, Martin Johnson's team were bullied by South Africa. Ashton articulated the desire for this victory over New Zealand not to be a one-off.

"I think there's a massive difference from two years ago. The whole culture changed," Ashton said.

"That win will fill us full of confidence. It is a bit frustrating to have two months away now.

"When we come back, we've got to go flying into Scotland (in the opening game of the Six Nations). We'll take this memory now and carry it on until we come back in."